Positive Environment News

Four People Killed in Mudslide on PNG Volcano

Date: 20-Mar-07

The four people were killed last week in an avalanche of ash and mud on the northern part of Manam Island off Papua New Guinea's north coast, and a fifth person was seriously injured, local media reported on Monday.

"The valleys are very dangerous and I am appealing to everyone not to venture into any of the valleys as there are huge quantities of ash and mud deposited on higher slopes," Health Minister Sir Peter Barter said in a statement.

"After heavy rain that has been experienced, the mud and loose material becomes a major risk for anyone venturing into the potential path of an avalanche," Barter said.

The Manam Island volcano erupted in October 2004, with heavy ash falls destroying houses and crops and contaminating water supplies. Authorities evacuated some 9,000 people to the mainland, but many islanders have since returned.

Manam is only 10 km (six miles) wide and about 13 kms (8 miles) from the coast, with villages scattered around the sides of the central volcano, which towers 1,807 metres (6,020 feet) above sea level.

Manam's first recorded eruption was in 1616 and it has erupted at least 30 times since. It is regarded as one of the world's most active volcanoes.

Papua New Guinea lies on the "Ring of Fire", a zone of volcanic activity around the Pacific that accounts for more than 75 percent of the world's active and dormant volcanoes.

© Thomson Reuters 2007 All rights reserved

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